Sky-High Ambitions For Female Building Industry Chief

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Association of Professional Builders (APB) Cofounder Sky Stephens has unveiled the company’s plans to transform the custom home building industry in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States within the next five years. 

Ms Stephens, 26, who personally coaches over 300 builders, said APB – which helps builders to systemise their marketing, sales, operations and accounts – is currently executing a plan to expand its membership from 300 building companies to over 25,000 within the next five years.

The 5-year expansion plan kicks off in 2021 with a book release and the launch of a brand-new industry specific podcast. 

“The overarching goal is to improve the residential construction industry for both builders and consumers,” she said.

“We aim to transform custom home builders into professional builders operating a business that delivers exceptional experiences for their clients.

“Everyone has heard the horror stories surrounding this industry, and that’s something we want to leave firmly in the past.”

Ms Stephens believes growing up around her father, mentor and APB Cofounder Russ Stephens made it inevitable that she was one day going to run a business.

Having started in a commission-only sales role in a men’s clothing store when she was only 15, Sky’s work ethic has always been strong. 

“I’ve always worked around men. And that was where I learnt sales and selling,” she said.

“That was fine for me because you’re on commission and you had to sell to do well.

“I was selling suits to grooms and their entire bridal party. I never got intimidated.”

Ms Stephens later went on to work with her father in a new business they set up together which specialised in generating new leads for custom home builders.

“We were generating a lot of quality leads for builders who had previously struggled to get any enquiries for their business other than referrals” she said.

“Looking at how those builders were dealing with those prospects made realise that the same skills I’d been taught in retail could also be used by builders to sell custom homes.”

While she believes there have been no real disadvantages to being a woman in a traditionally male industry, there have been some challenges.

“There’s nowhere to hide. You truly have to know your stuff,” she said.

“Builders can tell if you know what you are talking about, and I think especially being female and especially being young (I was 17 when I started.) they were maybe a little more sceptical.

“I think we create our own luck. Gender and age becomes less and less of an issue the more you truly know what you’re talking about.”

Ms Stephens cites her biggest surprise as understanding how little profit builders really make and lists her biggest success as having helped numerous builders to save their businesses.

“There’s a massive misconception that builders are on great wickets, that they earn so much money from building your home but really, they don’t. There is a lot of cash floating around, but very little in the way of net retained profit for their companies” she said.

“A lot of builders have come to us when they’re doing well and we help them to systemise so that they can do even better.

“But the amount of builders that were heading for financial ruin and our team has been able to help turn them round has been amazing. That’s what gives us enormous satisfaction, knowing that we’ve been able to impact people’s lives in such a positive way.”

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